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State Farm Testing Blockchain Solution for Auto Claims Subrogation

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In an age of fast-paced technology, companies have to embrace innovation to meet the changing demands of doing business. That is why State Farm is investing in new technologies and start-ups to help more people in more ways, far into the future. To keep up with customer expectations, State Farm is working on a blockchain solution that could speed up the subrogation process for auto claims. The company is testing the solution against existing subrogation processes to determine if it can be a viable product for insurance industry adoption and bring value to customers.

“Today, subrogation is a relatively manual, time-consuming process often requiring physical checks to be mailed on a claim-by-claim basis between insurers,” says Mike Fields, innovation executive, State Farm. “You can imagine the time and resources required to complete these transactions.”

Companies across many industries are using blockchain technology to securely store data and manage transactions. State Farm is working with another insurer to understand how an enterprise blockchain solution can be used to reduce the time needed to complete the subrogation process by securely and automatically compiling all subrogation payment amounts, netting the balance and facilitating a single payment on a regular basis between insurers.

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Authenteq Raises $5 Million for Blockchain Identity Verification

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Authenteq, creator of the blockchain identity verification technology Trollteq, has raised $5 million in funding and is now touting its 60-second identity verification process.

The funding for the Reykjavik, Iceland-based company was led by Draper Associates and Capital300. The company said it completed its funding round in two weeks.

Authenteq CEO Kari Thor Runarsson said the company is talking with additional investors about a second closing of the Series A financing, which is expected to happen in the next couple of weeks.

“The reason we decided to do two closings is we were introduced to an investor (Capital300) with a startup mindset of getting things done and felt it was a great challenge to try to finish all due diligence and paperwork in two weeks after the term sheet was approved,” Runarsson said, in a statement. “It was sort of a field test for us to see if they really were as agile and dynamic as they claimed to be during our discussions. We were honestly surprised how smoothly it went, despite a very thorough due diligence and legal process.”

Authenteq publicly launched its service in late 2018, and it signed up a dozen clients in the first months. A typical customer needs to comply with KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) regulations, meaning companies in the financial industry, as well as online marketplaces and professional services.

“Having forward-thinking investors such as Tim Draper continue his support of Authenteq after backing the company in the seed round and a convertible note shows his interest and dedication to the space,” said Runarsson. “And having investors like Capital300 who show the entrepreneurial spirit of getting stuff done in record time really gives us confidence that we have picked the right investors for our continued growth.”

Draper is known for his investments in Skype, Tesla, SpaceX, Baidu, Coinbase, Robinhood, and Twitch.

“I believe that Authenteq is the beginning of the solution to true and pure identity, which may eliminate many of the security concerns in the market today. Their product is simple and elegant,” Draper said, in a statement.

Authenteq’s AI-driven automatic identity verification process uses a proprietary passive liveness detection to make sure whoever is signing up for the service is doing so in real time. The company then issues an eID for the user, located on the user’s mobile phone and private blockchain. In less than 60 seconds, a user is verified with government-grade facial recognition algorithms, and the photo ID documents are authenticated.

The market for mobile identity verification is currently estimated at $10 billion and is expected to double in the next four to five years, according to consulting firm McKinsey.

Authenteq differentiates itself from other players in the space with its eID, which gives the user complete control and ownership over their online identity. Authenteq’s plan is to introduce various disruptive services for the largely untapped market.

The company has 22 employees working in its Berlin and Reykjavik offices, and the new funding will be used in part to fill a range of new positions.

Authenteq believes its identity management service can help curb the scourge of internet trolls. Trolling has become endemic across platforms ranging from Twitter and Facebook to online news sites, and these haters have made many previously family friendly and socially responsible websites into havens for online abuse. No matter how many troll accounts are deleted by the provider, they still return under a new name or handle and continue their vile behavior, threats, and harassment.

With Trollteq, once a user is banned, they are gone for good and cannot re-register under a false name or identity. It requires buy-in from platforms that allow some degree of anonymity or privacy, as Trollteq uses Authenteq’s identity management system, which requires people to verify that they are human.

You first have to use your smartphone to capture your image, selfie-style. Then you take a picture of your valid driver’s license or some other form of sovereign identification. Authenteq verifies that the images are of you and that the ID card is legitimate. Then it associates you with a login account that you are creating, without giving away your identity.

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BitTorrent Unveils Token to Enhance World’s Largest Decentralized P2P Protocol

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BitTorrent announced a token that aims to expand upon its vision of a decentralized internet. The new token, also called BitTorrent (BTT), will be issued by BitTorrent Foundation, established in Singapore and will enable users to exchange tokens to improve network speed. By providing users with the ability to use BTT tokens for faster downloads, the company aims to accelerate the overall speed of torrents. “BitTorrent token is the first in a series of steps to support a decentralized internet,” said Justin Sun, founder of TRON and CEO of BitTorrent. “In one giant leap, the BitTorrent client can introduce blockchain to hundreds of millions of users around the world and empower a new generation of content creators with the tools to distribute their content directly to others on the web.”

BitTorrent token, which features native TRC-10 compatibility, will be exclusively available to non-U.S. accounts on Binance Launchpad, the token sale platform by leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance.

“We created Launchpad to help entrepreneurs launch their best projects and bring more use cases to the industry,” said Changpeng Zhao (‘CZ’), Binance CEO and Founder. “BitTorrent is a decentralized project by nature, with a large user base, that is now adding a new token economy to their use case. Through Launchpad, BitTorrent will have greater access to resources across the Binance ecosystem. This will be a case study for existing projects.”

Launchpad helps transformative blockchain startups raise funds needed to develop their products and provides them with Binance’s advisory resources and access to its ecosystem as part of the company’s larger mission in aiding cryptocurrency adoption.

BitTorrent token will first be implemented into the Windows-based µTorrent Classic client, BitTorrent, Inc.’s most popular application. BitTorrent token-enabled µTorrent Classic clients will be 100% compatible with other clients that support the BitTorrent protocol, and users who wish to opt out will be able to do so in the product’s settings. More information about the token mechanism can be found on the official white papers.

TRON and BitTorrent plan to provide more details about BitTorrent token and Project Atlas products at niTROn Summit on January 17-18 in San Francisco.

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How and Where can Blockchain Help?

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The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support provided approximately 41,000 power poles, 88.1 million meals and 1,264 generators in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the 2017 hurricane season. Responding to three major hurricanes was a record undertaking for DLA, and the mission was a success.

But could the use of blockchain technology improve DLA’s support even more?

That was the question posed during a two-day presentation hosted by Troop Support’s Continuous Process Improvement office from Dec. 3-4 in Philadelphia. CPI leaders, by direction of the Commander, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly, reviewed Troop Support’s processes during their response to Hurricane Maria and recovery operations in Puerto Rico, and presented how blockchain capabilities could have improved efforts.

“We think there’s a lot of potential [in blockchain],” CPI management analyst Elijah Londo said. “Where do we want to be as an organization in shaping and influencing where the [Department of Defense] goes with blockchain?”

CPI Process Compliance Director Daniel Keenaghan described blockchain as a digital, decentralized “distributed ledger” where identical copies of data is stored across multiple servers.

Changes to the data, or “blocks”, such as updates to ordering and delivery tracking information key to DLA’s logistics processes, are linked in a “chain” that builds trust through peer-user validation within the chain. Changes are immediately viewable by all peers with access to the block of data, improving transparency and auditability of agency transactions.

Currently, processes are tracked through systems and databases that are centrally managed by one agency or another. Visibility can be challenging at times, and stakeholders have to synchronize data to make sure they are all tracking accurate, up-to-date information.

To help answer whether blockchain could have helped, Construction and Equipment deputy director Marko Graham used a process map of C&E’s actions linking FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, Troop Support and industry partners – key stakeholders who would be peer users in a blockchain scenario – to review where this technology might improve associated logistics processes.

Graham shared some challenging points in the process and how C&E worked through them, such as the efforts that went into the maintenance of an internal spreadsheet that tracked requirements sourced through multiple vendors as items were purchased and delivered.

Then, he discussed these points using blockchain capabilities such as transaction processing and in-transit visibility of shipments to evaluate the process improvements.

“This is where I can see where blockchain would have been a big help,” Graham said. “Flowing [materiel specifications and tracking data] from the manufacturer buying the raw materials to…getting the transportation and getting it on the barges.”

According to Londo, the potential of blockchain technology exists.

“The potential is absolutely enormous,” Londo said. “Talk about blockchain, [and] you’ll hear experts comparing it to transforming trust or transactions in the same way the internet changed communication. Other agencies and countries are also looking into this technology.”

Keenaghan invited one of those agency representatives to share his experience.

Craig Fischer, program manager with the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Innovation and Transformation Office, provided lessons learned from a blockchain pilot he conducted for equipment accountability, an application useful to any government agency.

Keenaghan also shared that the United Arab Emirates has set a goal to have 50 percent of government transactions processed via blockchain technology by 2021.

It’s still a while until the technology can be put to use at DLA.

“We’re researching the technology,” Londo said. “[We’re] getting as smart as we can about what it is, what industry is saying about it, what the future might look like, how it applies to supply chains and how other industries are using it. We’re doing our due diligence.”

Simerly’s plan is to take the research as it applies to the hurricane response, a use case so to speak, and provide information for DLA to justify and apply research and development efforts with blockchain.

A restoration of power to Puerto Rico is a mission success, but advances in technology offer potential improvements to what Keenaghan says is “already amazing work.”

That’s what the CPI office is after through their evaluation and coordination with government and industry partners, such as the U.S. Transportation Command and Maersk, a large shipping company, who are already experimenting with blockchain technology.

“There’s really no shortage of players out there,” Londo said. “At the very least, it’s a collaboration and knowledge share. And at its best, it’s actual partnerships and pilot opportunities.”

This CPI office hosted the event under the Troop Support Campaign of Learning.

The CoL sets conditions to understand key challenges and conditions of the future sustainment environment. Through readings and events, in partnership with the military, industry and academia, the CoL provides an avenue of disciplined, deliberate learning and dialogue to facilitate understanding and promote recommendations for future supply chain solutions.

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inacta AG Becomes Official Liquid Integration Partner

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inacta AG, a specialist for services around Crypto Assets, and Canada based Blockstream Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding for offering services for the interexchange settlement network Liquid to the Swiss finance industry.

Liquid, created by Blockstream which is run by the inventor of proof of work Dr. Adam Back, is the first production-ready sidechain and combines the strengths of public and permissioned blockchains. It allows issuance and transfer of crypto asset tokens such as equities, bonds and other securities in a scalable and private way using the unique Confidential Asset Technology.

The Liquid Network visualised

inacta’s recently established Crypto Assets unit will offer integration services for Liquid, helping financial institutions to leverage the benefits of the Liquid blockchain. What’s more, inacta supports companies that want to issue assets on the Liquid network.

Liquid technology has also been integrated in inacta’s Tokengate, the platform for issuing crypto assets in a manner fully compliant with laws and regulations. This makes tokengate the world’s first platform supporting tokens on the Liquid network.

About inacta

inacta is an independent Swiss IT consulting firm based in Zug. Almost 70 experienced digitization experts support organisations from the insurance, banking, real estate, and healthcare sectors. For almost two years now, the experts at inacta have been supporting start-ups and established companies with consulting, training and software development services. As an early adopter, inacta understands not only the technology but also how and where Blockchain is usefully used.

About tokengate

tokengate is an initiative of inacta AG and aims to be the reference platform for fully compliant ICOs in Switzerland. It supports Crypto Valley’s growing ecosystem and promotes transparency for both contributors and organizers with a standardised contribution process, resulting in a fully FINMA compliant and yet smooth user experience

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Atari to Make Blockchain Versions of Atari Games

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Atari, one of the world’s most famous editors and producers of interactive entertainment, today announces that it has entered into a license agreement with Animoca Brands Limited, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands Corporation Limited (listed on ASX: “AB1”). The Agreement grants Animoca Brands the rights to produce and publish blockchain versions of the popular Atari mobile game titles RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch and Goon Squad globally (excluding China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau).

At the same time, Animoca Brands and Atari also entered into a memorandum of understanding to develop a strategic partnership to explore mutual opportunities in gaming, product development, blockchain, and other areas.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch has over 19 million downloads globally and has benefited from the successful launch of the water park expansion in July 2018 as well as the addition of new restaurant features in September 2018 in partnership with Foodgod (aka Jonathan Cheban), famous for his reality show appearances on the hit television show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, who gathers a community of 3 million followers.

Goon Squad drops players into an underworld ruled by mobsters, gambling and fast-paced card battles. Players can plot a path from lowly Goon to all-powerful Godfather in the free-to-play title, collecting cards to rise through the ranks and build the ultimate criminal empire.

Based on the Agreement, Animoca Brands will produce and publish blockchain-based versions of the Atari games RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch and Goon Squad. The new titles will feature the integration of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The term of the Agreement extends through to 31 March 2022.

Animoca Brands expects to publish the games in the latter half of 2019.

As consideration for the license to develop and publish the Games, Animoca Brands will pay to Atari a minimum guarantee against future revenues of US$250,000, payable in shares of the Company’s stock (listed on ASX: “AB1”). A revenue share will be payable to Atari after gross revenues generated by the Games exceed a total of US$500,000.

The shares offered in consideration to Atari will be subject to a lock-up period of nine months from the effective date, and will be released from lock-up in a phased schedule extending through 31 August 2019.

Yat Siu, the co-founder and chairman of Animoca Brands, said: “This deal marks a special moment for me because I started my career working with Atari and using Atari computers. The RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise is, like many of Atari’s properties, a true evergreen, having been around for two decades. Given the strategic and commercial elements of this incredibly fun simulation, it is a perfect candidate for blockchain adaptation.”

Frédéric Chesnais, the main shareholder and CEO of Atari, commented: “We are proud and delighted to enter into this long-term and strategic relationship with Animoca Brands, which also allows us to become a shareholder in one of the most exciting innovators in the world of decentralized gaming. We hope that this agreement paves the way to to further cooperation on other Atari products.”

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UBF Explores Adoption of Blockchain in Banks

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The CEOs Advisory Council of the Dubai UAE Banks Federation (UBF) on Monday discussed the adoption of blockchain to enhance know-your-customer (KYC) processes at banks. The meeting also reviewed other key topics such as Emiratization, and digital transformation.

“As part of our efforts aimed at creating and sustaining a thriving banking ecosystem, we have undertaken a number of initiatives and new endeavours, such as the adoption of blockchain into KYC process,” said Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of UBF.

During the meeting, Aref Al Ramli, chairperson of UBF’s Digital Banking Committee, Senior VP, Head of Digital Banking and Innovation at Mashreq Bank, presented the Digital Banking Committee study about Blockchain which explores opportunities for creating an industry standard to digitise various processes within member banks, and the potential functions that can be leveraged by the technology, including client onboarding, cross-border transfers, payments, and compliance reporting, among several others.

“With advancements in technologies continuing to shape customer needs and expectations, it has become all-important for the banking industry to be at the forefront of innovation. The emerging technologies also present new opportunities for banks to create new revenue streams, which will in turn drive sustained business growth,” said Al Ghurair.

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Blockchain Can Help Improve Iran’s Economy

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Blockchain technology can help improve the national economy, the head of management development department of the vice presidency for science and technology, Alireza Daliri, IRNA reported on Saturday.

“This is possible with empowering the infrastructure of the blockchain technology with the help of government and private sector,” he explained.

The science and technology vice presidency is responsible for development and hi-tech like blockchain, he said.

“We should coordinate with other countries in the world in terms of new technologies and the blockchain is one of the issues,” he added.

Nowadays over 140 countries are now benefiting from blockchain technology through the world, he said.

Daliri then explained about the meaning of blockchain, a chain of blocks for recording information, which is shared with all member of the blockchain network and no one can change it due to its strong cryptography.

Some governments concern about blockchain technology, however, its benefits are more than damages, he explained.

The vice presidency decides to use this technology in different fields in the near future, he said.

Daliri said that blockchain would decrease bureaucratic procedures.

The vice presidency do its best to support and facilitate activities of the private sector active in the field of blockchain technology.

In early December, a group of blockchain experts from Tehran’s Sharif University of Technology announced that they are developing a startup which is to introduce the first Iranian blockchain-based taxi app.

The startup founder Amir Abbas Emami said that they have launched Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

The latest report of Europe Union Blockchain Observatory and Forum (EUBF) details that for blockchain to realize its potential within government institutions, they must focus on using the technology to build two things: digital identity systems, and digital versions of their national currencies.

“Digital identity is the fundamental building block and a key area for governments to focus on,” the report reads. “Another important building block … is having digital versions of national currencies on the blockchain, for example through blockchain-based central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

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Blockchains Should Have ‘Privacy by Design’ for GDPR Compliance

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General data protection regulation (GDPR) and blockchain is one of the industry’s most contentious debates at the moment. Some believe that public permissionless blockchains cannot be GDPR compliant, and that private blockchains might be the answer to blockchain’s regulatory woes. Even so, private blockchains bring into question the very meaning of what a blockchain is. There is no simple answer.

Dutch blockchain startup, LTO Network, hosted speakers from Barclay’s bank, Cambridge Computer Lab, and Queen Mary University to take on some of these challenging questions at Hard Fork Decentralized last night.

The overarching sentiment from the evening? That we should probably be trying harder to get our heads around making blockchain a legally compliant technology that can be used in a broad range of public service settings.

According to Barclay’s Intrapreneur, Julian Wilson, we need to “reconfigure our approach and way of thinking” when building blockchains. We should not be using blockchain‘s as bolt-ons or additions to current business models, but entirely re-imaging our business models built around a suitable blockchain – assuming that a blockchain is the best solution, that is.

In some cases building a blockchain purely for the sake of it is the worst thing a company can do. For a bank that has over 300 years of history, like Barclay’s, it is not as simple as just moving current banking process over to the blockchain. Hundreds of years of evolution can’t simply be unpicked and put onto an off the shelf solution, blockchains need to be bespoke.

Particularly when there are know-your-customer (KYC) policies required by law, not all blockchains would satisfy these laws, thus specialist blockchains need to be created. Indeed, to make a blockchain legally compliant, it should be built with the law in mind, and not the other way around.

Researchers from Queen Mary University believe that solving the blockchain GDPR crypto-legal puzzle is actually quite simple.

Fundamentally, it can be solved by balancing blockchains design with legal requirement from the ground up. “To solve these design puzzles we must use creative solutions that support regulations by design,” said Dave Michels from Queen Mary University.

Michels described one solution to the GDPR crypto-legal puzzle, the right to be forgotten. In this case Michels believes that transaction data could be encrypted with a private key to generate a cipher text which can be stored on the blockchain in an immutable fashion. If one wants to be forgotten, deleting and removing the key makes the transaction data stored in the cipher text unreadable, but does not break the chain of records stored on the blockchain.

The issue however, is this creates a new challenge of where and how to store these private keys, in some cases it can lead to a point of centralization. If this is the case, it challenges the notion of whether decentralization is the best choice for the given application of the blockchain – taking us back square one.

Of course, these solutions are only applicable for GDPR, other nations will have different takes on regulation, so tackling blockchain compliance on a global level is even more difficult.

Indeed, there is not going to be an easy answer to the crypto-legal puzzle that blockchains present. But with legal researchers, bankers, and deveopers – like those at LTO Network’s talk last night – working to solve these puzzles I am sure that a solution will eventually be found. Whether or not that solution can be regarded as a blockchain is a whole other conversation.

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CULedger Joins R3’s Global Blockchain Ecosystem

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CULedger, a credit union-owned CUSO that focuses on delivering innovative applications to credit unions through its cross-border global distributed ledger platform, is now a member of the enterprise software firm R3’s global blockchain ecosystem.

Based in Denver, CULedger is a consortium of credit unions focusing on delivering innovative applications on its global distributed ledger platform. It provides advantages to credit unions and their members by reducing risks associated with cybersecurity and fraud, improving member experience, streamlining internal processes and reducing administrative and operational costs. CULedger is currently rolling out its pilot program of the company’s flagship product, MyCUID, one of the first self-sovereign identification methods for credit union members.

It joins R3’s global network of more than 200 of the world’s largest financial services firms, technology companies, central banks, regulators, and trade associations working together on Corda.

Corda is an enterprise-grade blockchain platform that removes costly friction in business transactions by enabling institutions to transact directly using smart contracts, while ensuring the highest levels of privacy and security. R3 recently launched Corda Enterprise, a commercial distribution of Corda specifically optimised to meet the demands of complex institutions.

John Ainsworth, president and chief operating officer of CULedger, comments: “We are very excited to work with R3 in some capacity. Being part of this vast ecosystem will play a part in our ability to develop additional use cases beyond digital identities for credit unions and their members. We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with R3 as CULedger moves out of the pilot stage.”

David E. Rutter, CEO of R3, comments: “Corda’s unique approach to privacy and security will enable CULedger to develop ground-breaking blockchain-based applications for self-sovereign digital identity and fraud detection. We look forward to working with them to create significant efficiencies for credit unions and their members.”

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South Korea’s Kakao Invests in Israeli Blockchain Firm Orbs

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Israeli blockchain startup Orbs said on Thursday it received an investment from Kakao Investment, the venture arm of South Korean internet conglomerate Kakao Corp.

Orbs did not disclose the size of the investment. Kakao, South Korea’s largest messaging app operator, earlier this year said it would establish a unit focusing on blockchain technology.

Orbs said the investment will help it further its development and growth and builds on its existing partnership with Kakao blockchain subsidiary Ground X, where the two companies have agreed to partner on blockchain applications and research and development projects.

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